Arizona, the land of scorching deserts, vibrant cities, and the jaw-dropping Grand Canyon, is like a freaking amusement park for adults. Trust me, you’ll find something here to tickle your fancy, whether you’re a nature freak, history nerd, or an adrenaline junkie. So, strap in and let’s dive into some of the coolest things to do in Arizona.
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1. Marvel at the Grand Canyon, Obviously
You can’t visit Arizona without checking out the Grand Canyon. This bad boy stretches over 277 miles and offers stunning views that’ll make your jaw drop faster than a base jumper. Hiking, rafting, or taking a helicopter tour are just a few of the ways to experience the canyon’s grandeur.
Traveler’s Tip: To avoid the crowds, visit the North Rim instead of the more popular South Rim.
2. Sedona’s Red Rocks: A Feast for the Eyes
Sedona’s red rock formations are so mesmerizing you’ll feel like you’ve stepped onto another planet. Hiking, mountain biking, and Jeep tours are great ways to explore the area’s otherworldly beauty. And don’t you dare miss the Chapel of the Holy Cross, built right into the red rocks.
Traveler’s Tip: Plan a visit around sunset to see the rocks seemingly change color as the sun dips below the horizon.
3. The Petrified Forest National Park: Nature’s Art Gallery
This unique national park boasts one of the largest and most vibrant collections of petrified wood on Earth. But that’s not all – you can also wander through the kaleidoscopic Painted Desert and gawk at ancient Native American petroglyphs.
Traveler’s Tip: Stay for sunset and watch the colors of the landscape transform in a spectacular display.
4. Saguaro National Park: Cacti on Steroids
Located near Tucson, Saguaro National Park is named after the colossal saguaro cactus – the largest cactus species in the US. Here, you’ll find hiking trails, scenic drives, and plenty of opportunities to spot diverse wildlife.
Traveler’s Tip: Visit the park during the early morning or late afternoon hours for cooler temperatures and to capture stunning photographs of the saguaros against the colorful sky.
5. Get Your Kicks on Route 66
Take a trip down memory lane on the historic Route 66, which runs through Arizona. Stop at quirky roadside attractions, classic diners, and vintage motels for a nostalgic adventure like no other.
Traveler’s Tip: Don’t miss the Hackberry General Store, a retro gem filled with Route 66 memorabilia.
6. Embrace Your Inner Cowboy in Tombstone
Step back in time to the Wild West in the legendary town of Tombstone. Watch reenactments of the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral, stroll along historic Allen Street, and raise a glass in one of the town’s many saloons.
Traveler’s Tip: The best time to visit the Sonoran Desert is during the spring when the wildflowers are in bloom.
7. Hike through the Superstition Mountains
Discover the rugged beauty of the Superstition Mountains, a favorite among hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. Take on the challenging trails and keep an eye out for the fabled Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine.
Traveler’s Tip: Always carry plenty of water and sunscreen, as the Arizona sun can be unforgiving.
8. Explore the Musical Instrument Museum
Phoenix is home to the world’s only global musical instrument museum, featuring over 6,000 instruments from around the world. You’ll be amazed by the diverse collection and the hands-on exhibits.
Traveler’s Tip: Make sure to allocate enough time for your visit, as the museum is quite large. Don’t miss the Experience Gallery, where you can try out various instruments from around the world.
9. Tour the Hoover Dam
Straddling the Arizona-Nevada border, the Hoover Dam is an engineering marvel worth seeing up close. Take a guided tour to learn about the dam’s construction and enjoy stunning views of the surrounding landscape.
Traveler’s Tip: Book a guided tour in advance to secure your spot and gain more in-depth knowledge about the dam’s history and engineering. Don’t forget to bring your camera for some amazing photo opportunities.
10. Wander through Antelope Canyon
Antelope Canyon, a photographer’s dream, offers surreal landscapes and mesmerizing light displays. Book a guided tour to navigate the narrow, twisting sandstone walls of this stunning slot canyon.
Traveler’s Tip: Make reservations well in advance, as tours fill up quickly.
11. Stargaze at Kitt Peak National Observatory
Arizona’s clear skies make it an ideal spot for stargazing. Visit Kitt Peak National Observatory, home to the world’s largest collection of optical telescopes, for an unforgettable night of starry wonder.
Traveler’s Tip: Check the observatory’s website for scheduled public programs and nighttime stargazing events. Dress warmly, as temperatures can drop significantly after sunset.
12. Experience Native American Culture at the Heard Museum
Dedicated to the advancement of American Indian art, the Heard Museum in Phoenix showcases the rich history and culture of Native American peoples through exhibits, performances, and demonstrations.
Traveler’s Tip: Plan your visit to coincide with one of the museum’s cultural events or art demonstrations to gain a deeper understanding of Native American traditions and contemporary art.
13. Soak in the Natural Hot Springs of Verde Valley
Unwind in the rejuvenating waters of Verde Valley’s natural hot springs. A visit to this scenic region offers a perfect combination of relaxation, adventure, and breathtaking beauty.
Traveler’s Tip: Visit in spring or fall for the best weather and fewer crowds.